U.S. Ship Logjam Worsens As Biden’s Attempt To Save Christmas Fails

President Biden told Americans that the supply chain is in “very strong shape” ahead of Christmas. Speaking from the White House Wednesday, Biden said his administration has partnered with the private sector to “ensure the store shelves are stocked.” But new shipping data shows snarled supply chains are worsening, and it could take months to untangle them. 

New shipping data from the busiest U.S. port complex, Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, shows 96 container ships idled offshore, waiting to unload cargo.

FreightWaves’ Greg Miller described a new queuing system for vessels as pure optics, which reduces the number of ships offshore of Los Angeles/Long Beach. He said ships are being placed in holding patterns further out into the ocean where they’re out of sight and out of mind — to prevent attention-grabbing aerial imagery of container ship logjams.

The new queuing system has divided vessels into a couple of categories: 40 ships anchored within 40 miles of the ports and 56 outside that perimeter. With the line continuing to get longer at the U.S.’ largest containerized ports, the Biden miracle to save Christmas appears to be failing.  

What’s also worsening are wait times. It now takes 21 days, or three weeks, for a vessel to enter the twin ports, that’s up from seven in August. 

Biden’s effort to reduce dwell times is not working, even after he announced a new directive for the twin ports in mid-October to operate on a 24/7 basis. We noted at the time, in a piece titled “Here’s The Truth Behind Biden’s 24/7 Port Operations Pledge,” that the move would not save Christmas. 

There’s even more confirmation that disputes the president’s claim supply chains are easing. FreightWaves’ Clarissa Hawes said, “we are drowning on the landside by long lines and staffing issues at the terminals.” She said a flawed appointment system and other efficiency issues for drayage truckers continue to plague the twin ports. 

Biden’s attempt to save Christmas appears to be failing. There’s still time to call in the National Guard. At least now the administration can blame the new Omicron COVID-19 variant on why some store shelves are still bare. 

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